Stark contrasts for film crew - from the glamour of LA to the grit of a wintry Bradford cemetery. Words: Tony Earnshaw.
Pictures: Jim Moran.
Thirty years after Tom Courtenay bluffed and blustered his way through Billy Liar, another movie
with a remarkably similar character landed in Bradford.
On a crisp January morning, in the breath-taking Victorian
necropolis which is Undercliffe Cemetery, the cast and crew of Los Angeles Without a Map labour to complete a pivotal scene
under the harsh glare of a brilliant winter sun.
For director Mika Kaurismaki, the fine weather is presenting problems.
After the California sun of Los Angeles, where most of the $4.2m movie was shot, Finnish-born Kaurismaki wanted a
typically gloomy, overcast Yorkshire morning for a funeral scene.
He didn't get it. The unseasonably good conditions
meant he had to re-schedule the day's shots, jumping from Undercliffe, high on a hill above Bradford where Billy Liar was
filmed 35 years before, to the city centre.
"We had the opposite weather problems when we were in Los Angeles," said
a tired Kaurismaki during a break in filming.
"The weather was quite bad. We shot in winter, we had storms and what
have you. Many times we were waiting for sun and it was raining. It's absurd, you know?"
Kaurismaki worked with writer
Richard Rayner to adapt the latter's novel, LA Without a Map, for the screen. Largely autobiographical, it focuses on Richard,
a lowly Bradford undertaker who loses his heart to Barbara, a sexy American visitor, follows her to Los Angeles, marries her,
loses her, and returns home, his romantic dream in tatters.
Filming on the movie, starring David Tennant and Vinessa
Shaw as the lovers, and featuring the likes of Saskia Reeves, Amanda Plummer, James Le Gros, Vincent Gallo, '70s star Joe
Dallesandro and Steve Huison, best known as the ginger loner Lomper from The Full Monty, has been split between the US and
The beginning and end of the story take place in England, with the heat of Los Angeles providing a stark contrast
to the Northern grit of Bradford.
"It's been very strange. We started filming here on Monday, and it's like a whole
new crew, most of the actors are new here, it's like starting on another job. It's very weird," said Tennant, a theatre veteran
who has worked with the RSC, but whose film experience is limited to one day's work on the Thomas Hardy film, Jude.
were in America for three-and-a-half months, so we've done most of the film. We're in Bradford for five days, and then it's
all over. I've not done a big movie before, for me it's been a bit of an eye-opener."
For Steve Huison, playing Tennant's
business partner, the film marks his second big screen appearance after the worldwide success of The Full Monty.
actor is gradually winding down from the rollercoaster ride of playing a Sheffield stripper - a ride which took him to America
and made his one of the best-known faces in Britain.
"I live in the Aire Valley, which is only 10 minutes away, so
this is a handy little job to have," said Huison.
"After the success of The Full Monty I have been considered as more
of a character actor. Since doing The Full Monty I've turned down more jobs than I've accepted. None of us knew how big the
film was going to be, especially internationally.
"People are taking me more seriously now. But I've got nothing else
lined up after this - I'll probably go back to working on the allotment."